Hastings Rave Review in the Sunday Times

Posted on 13th March 2017

Hastings: A popular seaside town full of period charm — and promise.

Why it’s hot 

Hastings, once synonymous with faded Victorian splendour, has drawn favourable comparisons with east London’s trendy Shoreditch in recent years, thanks to a pot of government regeneration money and an influx of urban newcomers who have brought a cool, bohemian edge to the town.

A generation ago, the seaside town was saddled with a down-at-heel reputation, but Hastings is quietly on the up. The pier, which reopened last spring after a £14m refurbishment, including an £11.4m Heritage Lottery grant, has been hailed “the coolest-looking pier in the world” and has already played host to gigs, open-air cinema screenings and farmers’ markets. 

Meanwhile, the sleek, black-tiled £4m Jerwood Gallery, which opened on the shingle in 2012, showcases an impressive permanent collection of 20th- and 21st-century British art.

Why it’s not 

Although it’s only 60 miles from London, Hastings, despite the gentrification, is still the most deprived district in the southeast. The unemployment rate is almost double the average for the region, and its social problems have been well documented.

Education, education, education 

There’s a wide range of prep and public schools nearby, including Vinehall School, a co-educational independent prep school in Robertsbridge, judged outstanding by the Independent Schools Inspectorate; and Battle Abbey School, an independent school ranked 153rd for co-ed A-Level results in the Sunday Times Schools Guide. Of the state primaries, many are rated outstanding by Ofsted. No state secondaries have been deemed outstanding, although Rye College is judged good.

Get connected 

The town’s far southeasterly position, with limited strategic transport infrastructure, has made connectivity a hot topic. Roads are congested and locals complain that bus services are often unpunctual. There are several trains an hour to London stations (averaging 1 hr 40 minutes) and Brighton (70 minutes), as well as hourly trains to Ashford International (42 minutes).

Be seen in 

Alastair Hendy’s tiny restaurant, which opens for lunch on summer weekends with a fishy and seasonal menu. Alternatively, try Rock-a-Nore Kitchen, where mixed seafood platters are a speciality. The Albion pub on the seafront is great for live music.

Buy in 

Old Town, a picturesque jumble of Tudor, Georgian and Victorian cottages and townhouses, with its narrow streets and passageways called “twittens”, has seen the biggest property price increases. Croft Road, Tackleway and All Saints’ Street are the most popular with professionals and second-homers. A four-bedroom detached house with a garden in the High Street recently sold for £625,000, although average prices range from £150,000 for a one-bedroom flat to £450,000 for a three-bedroom house.

The other coveted area is St Leonards, where peeling facades are being given a fresh lick of paint. Dubbed Portobello-on-Sea, since the arrival of antiques shops and vintage galleries, this district owes its classical elegance to the developer-architect James Burton and his more renowned son Decimus, whose grand squares and terraces are reminiscent of the statelier parts of London. A three-bedroom house costs about £240,000, though popular roads such as Norman Road and Undercliff Terrace will set you back substantially more.

Why we love it 

A popular seaside town full of period charm — and promise.

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